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Old 08-18-2010, 01:36 PM   #1
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Corrosion affects value

I live in Florida and I'm hoping to purchase a "newer" used Airstream. Over the past several months I have looked at models between the age of 3 and 7 years of age. To my disappointment, the overwhelming majority of these traailers were adversely affected, to some degree or another, from corrosion issues. Some of it looked like filiform corrosion under the clearcoat and some of it was around the door hinges, some of it around the rivets, and some of it was the "premature" finish failure around the tail light castings. Although the physical appears of the interiors looked consistent with their actual age, the exterior corrosion blemishes made the trailers appear significantly older.

In my opinion these corrosion issues are advancing or speeding-up the depreciation of the trailers.

Depreciation is a loss of value from any cause, even if it's nothing more than an eye-sore. Simply stated; who wants an eye-sor? Some folks will claim that it's only cosmetic and not structural. Well, a poor paint job is only cosmetic. Try to sell your car for full price with a lemon paint job. Some people will not buy it, regardless how big a discount you offer.

I'm reminded about the "tainted" Chinese drywall that made it into this country a few years ago. People were so outraged that they banded together in a class action suite to solve the problem. They were worried, and rightly so, about the value of their homes.

I've lived near the salt water all my life and have seen first-hand the negative effects of salt water on metal. However, I think this corrosion problem is not unique to Florida trailers along.

I don't know what the solution is. I'm just stating that there is a "chink-in-the-armore" in some of our shinny new trailers. I'm just worried that the value of the affected trailers will "fall-off" the cliff, not from abuse or age, but from premature odsolescence from incurable "cosmetic" corrosion.

For whatever reason, the older trailers are more resistant to it and the newer trailers are less resistant to it. Consequently, it appears that the character composition of the newer aluminum has change over the years, and changed for the worse. If a washing machine manufacture produced a washer that showed rust in three years they would be out of business.

However, in spite of this annoying problem, I'm still hoping to purchasing an Airstream.

Maybe I'm like the guy who smokes cigarettes, but thinks he will escape cancer.
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:24 PM   #2
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Use your theory to negotiate down the price of the unit when you
find one. The seller may or may not hold too closely to your beliefs.
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Old 08-18-2010, 04:21 PM   #3
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I have no intentions of using my theory to negotiate a better purchase price. I'm the guy who isn't going to buy a car with a lemon paint job, regardless of the price.

What has surprised me more than anything else is that the corrosion issues are coming on so fast with some of the newer trailers. Some of the Florida trailers that I've looked at are 5 years old, yet they look like they are 10 years old on the outside, simply because of corrosion issues. In addition, it is surprising to find a Florida trailer that is older than 5 years that doesn't have the some kind of corrosion issues.

Maybe I need to start looking in Arizona to find my "cherry" Airstream, buy it, and leave it there.

My opinion that the corrosion blemishes will ultimately "adversely" affect the market value, i.e. selling price may, or may not, happen depending on a variety of factors. However, it is an eye-sore that most buyers and sellers wish they didn't have to deal with when it comes time to buy or sell. Consequently, I wish there was a satisfactory solution to a problem that has the potential to negatively affect the value of the trailer.
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Old 08-18-2010, 05:15 PM   #4
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Airstreams or any other trailer will depreciate in value a great deal, with or without corrosion. None are good investments.

We buy RVs for pleasure and fun, and to facilitate comfortable travel wherever we may want to go. They need maintenance, and the metal shell in a corrosive environment may need more than others. With that they can be kept in very nice condition.

The aesthetic and lure to adventure of the Airstream is hard to beat. I smile every time I look at it or hook it up to head down the road. It will need repair from time to time, but what doesn't.

So decide if you are an Airstreamer, shop carefully to get the one that will suit you for a long time, then resale will not matter.

Doug
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Old 08-18-2010, 05:37 PM   #5
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Well said dkottom. The fact that I'm looking to purchase a travel trailer is testimony to the fact that I suffer from the lure of adventure.

What attracted me to the Airstream brand first and foremost was it's design and second it reputation for quality. When I buy an Airstream, I hope I will be able to remember your sage comments for comfort, as I watch the shine on my trailer turn to grey dust.

In the mean time I guess I need to lower my expectations a little. However, the thought of that sounds a little sad.
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Old 08-18-2010, 06:07 PM   #6
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I want to clarify one point. I expect periodic maintenance and I fully expect my trailer to depreciate with the passage of time. Normal depreciation, not abnormal "rapid" decline due to premature corrosion.

I'll say it again: What troubles me is that the corrosion issues affecting newer Airstreams is coming on so fast. In my mind a 3 to 5 year old trailer should still look reasonable, free of pervasive corrosion, and yet the trailers that I've looked at are clouded with corrosion around the rivets, door handles and especially around the tail light assemblies. If this is normal I need to adjust my thinking, as well as, my expectations.

However, I know that this issue seems to resonate with some owners and not with others.
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Old 08-18-2010, 06:40 PM   #7
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The reputation for quality may be a myth; nonetheless its been slipping. But they can be kept looking very nice with regular inspection and maintenance. I'm expecting mine to last a long time.

The design is timeless. A near perfect expression of purpose. No goofy scalloped paint jobs to hide slab plastic sides here, it's design is true to it's materials, and that is hard to find today.

I know there are better used examples out there than you describe, and yes I have seen totally clean late models in Arizona's dry climate. Shop around, get a nice one, and keep it up. A little corrosion here and there, kept under control, is probably normal.

Doug
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Old 08-18-2010, 06:50 PM   #8
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if you search the forums you'll see lots of threads about corrosion / skin issues on trailers around the year 07 - 09 (maybe old too). i have a 62 and know the qwuality of workmanship inside and out (we re-built it!)
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Old 08-18-2010, 07:19 PM   #9
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The old trailers with Alclad sheet aluminum had a plastic coating straight from Alcoa, I'm not sure about the newer alloys.

Brine exposure, even in the second county in from the coast that still gets some salt in the air on occasion, is not provided for in any trailer. Corrosion testing usually is something on the order of eight or forty hours in a brine mist chamber and the engineers extrapolate future performance from the results data. Heck, even being near fertilized farm fields or turf will dose aluminum with magic crystal making salts.

You want another variable to throw in? Acid Rain - fallout from power plants, especially coal. China adding 500 new coal plants a year for the last decade now has plumes of pollution jumping the pacific. I've seen early spring drizzle here in Minnesota that ate the knees out of my Levi's when I knelt down on my driveway to tweak the suspension on my F-150 and then tossed the jeans in the hamper for a week. Had a springtime acidic cloud-burst just enough to wet the ground kill ten pounds of grass seed I had hurriedly put down to take advantage of the rain. Make no mistake, acid rain - even carbolic acids for CO2 - is on the rise.
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:48 PM   #10
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SilverKing,
Since you live in Fla. maybe a nice big boat with sleeping quarters and a fiberglass haul would suit your situation better?
I know if I lived near the sea I would definately be looking at a big boat to use in my spare time. You know, one with a galley, and queen bed, television, and head.
That's livin'.
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Old 08-19-2010, 12:00 AM   #11
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Hi, as for the corrosion issue, I think some of it is just luck. [bad luck] My trailer has a few spots on the door hinges, tail light housings, and the grab handle. They are not getting any worse or better. I live about eight miles from the Pacific Ocean and my trailer has never been waxed. People [some] who live far from the ocean, park in inside storage buildings, and wax the heck out of their trailers have lots of corrosion. And it seems that all of the theories have been thought of, but no real answers. These pictures are of my freshly washed trailer at about six years from actual production date. This trailer has never been stored indoors.
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Old 08-21-2010, 03:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverKing View Post
I live in Florida and I'm hoping to purchase a "newer" used Airstream. Over the past several months I have looked at models between the age of 3 and 7 years of age...Some of it looked like filiform corrosion under the clearcoat...
Hmmm...I'll bet I looked at one of them a few weeks ago ('05 25' SS, perhaps?)

The interior was great...the exterior, not so great.
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Old 10-09-2010, 01:50 PM   #13
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Filoform corrosion

Interesting thread. I just purchased an '03 Airstream and it has slight filoform corrosion around the edges of the aluminum plates just about everywhere there's an edge. The people at Geo. Sutton RV (Eugene OR) do a coating that's like a wax (rub in and rub off) called Xzilon. It's supposed to protect from corrosion (stop the old stuff from spreading and stop new stuff from starting) for 10 to 12 years. Pricey: $1100 for my 22' unit. I didn't want to make the 8 hour trip up to Eugene from San Francisco to have it done at Sutton so got contacted their distributor through them and got the names of some dealers who do the ZXilon
coating near me. One of these dealers, RVs4less in Madera CA, said they no longer use Zxilon, they now use Trident. It's a 2 stage process that causes a negative charge and then a positive charge, maybe like electro-coating. It would cost about the same as Xzilon, but has only a 4 year warrantee. This guy said Xzilon only offers a 2 year warrantee, but I understood from Sutton it would protect for 10 - 12 years, as I said before.
Anyway, has anybody heard about these treatments? Any opinions? I'm trying to decide what to do.
BTW, the fellow I bought my unit from said he sprayed WD-40 on the seams to keep the filoform from spreading.
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